5 Ways to Use Automated Emails to Surprise & Delight Customers

October 10, 2022 6 min read

Amelia Willson

Amelia Willson

5 Ways to Use Automated Emails to Surprise & Delight Customers

As flashy and exciting as customer acquisition can be, everyone knows that customer retention is where it’s really at.

Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can boost profits by 25% to 95%. Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products than new customers, and they spend 31% more, on average. Oh, and did we mention that new customer acquisition costs have risen almost 60% in the past five years?

Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can boost profits by 25% to 95%.

Translation: it’s worth having a dedicated marketing strategy for your existing customers. That’s where surprise and delight marketing comes in. Surprise and delight marketing focuses exclusively on making your existing customers feel fantastic. The better they feel, the more loyal they are — and the more likely they are to sing your praises to their family, friends, and social media followers. 

Let’s dig in with five ways you can use automated emails to surprise and delight your customers — using real-world examples!

1. Celebrate milestones and birthdays

In the real world, you celebrate people in your life. You wish them a happy birthday, happy graduation, happy anniversary, and more. Why shouldn’t you do the same with your customers? You are building a relationship with them, after all.

A birthday email is a perfect place to send well wishes to your customers and clients without asking for anything in return. Take this example from Rocket Mortgage. There’s no call-to-action or plug for their services. Just a happy dog and a short and sweet birthday note.

example of happy birthday email from Rocket Mortgage

A nice note is gift enough. But it’s worth noting that birthday emails have 481% higher transaction rates and 179% higher click rates than standard promotional emails. So, go ahead and uplevel your birthday email with an exclusive discount code, a free gift with their next purchase, or a free whitepaper (just make sure the subject matter has an element of fun). 

A client anniversary is another cause for celebration. Every year, language learning app Duolingo celebrates their customers’ “Duoversary” with a motivational CTA to keep on learning:

example of anniversary email from Duolingo

2. Give them an ego boost

Loyalty programs are excellent for keeping customers engaged. They’re also a perfect candidate for a surprise and delight email campaign. Instead of simply updating customers on their point-earning activities, you can use these emails to remind your customers how awesome they are. It’s always nice to be told how awesome you are.

Here’s an example from Sephora. The brand starts strong with a subject line telling the recipient they are a “TOP earner.” Then, the entire email celebrates them for spending so much with the company. Motivational phrases like “beauty wins”  are peppered throughout the email and reminders of how much they’ve earned so far. Sephora also reinforces its gratitude for loyal customers with phrases like “We love members like you” and “We love celebrating you.”

example of top earner loyalty email from Sephora

The above email from Sephora is sent out on a seasonal basis, which is one way to time the sending of these automated emails. You can also choose to send them after every purchase like Lively does in the example below:

example of loyalty points email from Lively

3. Say thank you, and that’s it

Customer inboxes are inundated with emails from brands asking them for something — to make a purchase, register for a webinar, post on social media, or write a review. The list goes on. 

If you really want to delight your customers, send them an email that asks for nothing. Just thank them for being part of your community. Here’s an example from a jewelry store:

example of a short, simple thank you email

M&M’s takes a similar approach, although they do admittedly throw some CTAs in there. However, the paragraph format of the email is refreshing. It reads more like a personal letter from a friend than your traditional communication from a brand.

example of a thank you email from m&m including CTAs

4. Provide value just because

Customer service emails can be so transactional. It’s the nature of doing business. Send an email that doesn’t directly ask customers to buy something from you for a breath of fresh air. Instead, focus simply on providing value to your customers. That’s truly delightful. 

Creating emails used to be a technical feat, but anyone can create clean and consistent emails with a drag-and-drop email builder.

Here’s an example from Golde, a food supplement company. Once customers sign up for their email newsletter, the brand surprises them with a free ebook of recipes. Even without buying anything, the brand is offering them real value — while also suggesting 15+ ways to derive more value from their products, should the customer decide to buy. However, the recipes will work regardless of whether or they choose to use Golde’s products. 

value-added email example from Golde, showing a recipe book download

For another approach, here’s a post-purchase email from Sephora. Instead of the typical post-purchase ask for reviews, Sephora surprises customers with a helpful email that shares tips for getting more value from the product they just purchased.

value-added email from Sephora showing tips for how to use recently purchased item

Finally, value doesn’t always have to be in the form of knowledge. Sometimes, you can just have fun. For example, Pottery Barn invites customers to learn more about themselves with a BuzzFeed-style quiz. The quiz features Pottery Barn products throughout, but the goal is to help customers discover their holiday style, not to sell.

5. Throw ‘em a freebie

We’ll end with the best tactic of all: a surprise gift or coupon code. 94% of customers say receiving a surprise gift makes them feel more positive about a brand, and over one-third say it directly leads to them purchasing something.

You can automate your emails to send after a set number of days since the customer’s last purchase, like this miss-you email from Bloomingdale’s:

coupon freebie offer via email from Bloomingdale's

You can also delight your most loyal customers with surprise gift cards, just because like Chewy does. This is a great way to show appreciation to your biggest spenders.

email from Chewy to high spenders

Refine your strategy for more success

Once you start with surprise and delight marketing, you will surely be delighted with the results. But it’s important to check in with how your efforts are working. 

With Nextiva, you can send automated follow-up surveys after every customer service interaction. Make sure your customers are as delighted as you think they are, and get their feedback on what you can do better. 

And then create some stellar emails like the ones above. Nextiva lets you send automated emails so you can surprise & delight your customers and get on with the rest of your work. 

Are you ready to communicate confidently, delight customers, and work smarter from one platform? Talk to an expert about Nextiva now.

Amelia Willson


Amelia Willson

Amelia Willson is a marketer-turned-freelance writer, based in sunny southern California. She covers health, technology, and digital marketing. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her at the beach or walking her dog Rockefeller.

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